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William Aubrey & Clara Smith



Clara Godwin Blackford Read Smith

William Aubrey Smith

Clara Godwin Blackford was the daughter of Godwin Lewis Blackford (1862–1927) and Eugenia B. "Gene" Rue (1863–1947).  G.L. Blackford was longtime President of Denison's State National Bank.

Clara Blackford Smith as a girl, with dogs
Source : Bryant & Hunt.  Two Schools on Main Street, fig. 7.7

The 1900 Census lists the family at 1128 West Sears. Rooming with the family was Eugenia's brother, George O. Rue (1871–1929), a single 28-year-old bank clerk from Missouri. He later married Hazel Chamberlain, daughter of the noted Denison stone worker, A. P. Chamberlain.

1900 U.S. Census

G. L. Blackford (a banker), wife Eugenia Blackford, and Clara Blackford, age 8, live at 1128 West Sears Street. Eugenia's brother George Rue, a single 28-year-old bank clerk from Missouri, is a roomer there.

Clara attended Denison's Educational Institute, the first free, graded public school in Texas, where she was on the staff of the Raven (literary magazine) in May 1907. 

Editorial staff
The Raven (DHS literary magazine)
May 1907
Front row : Marie Markham, Floy Haley, Jessie Rennie
2nd row : Clara Blackford, Margaret Munson, Maude Peel, Eunice Strayhorn
3rd row : Woodie Byrn, Carrie Seward, Frances Harnest, Ila Ester
Back row : Curt Beck, Eugene Bristol, Fred Morgan, Gerald Sullivan
Source : Bryant & Hunt, Two Schools on Main Street, fig. 5.9

After completing high school around 1907, Clara spent time in New York City, where she lived in a residential hotel for young women and attended Katherine Gibbs, a finishing school that also taught practical business skills. It is possible that Clara also received training as a social worker during this period.

Around 1915, the Blackford parents built an impressive Craftsman style home across the street at 1200 West Sears.

G. L. Blackford House
1200 West Sears Street
built ca. 1915 for the president of the State National Bank
The Blackfords lived here from 1916 to 1946. Then their daughter, Clara, and her husband, W. Aubrey Smith, occupied the residence.
Now the home of Mr. and Mrs. Jerry Hatfield, this is a fine example of Craftsman design.

On January 27, 1922, at age 29, Clara married Allen Jerome Read (1893–1925) in a small ceremony in her parents' home in Denison. The event was recorded in a short notice in the New York Times and another in the Sherman Democrat

Denison Girl Bride of N.Y. Business Man

[Source: Sherman TX Daily Democrat, January 29, 1922]

Denison, Texas, Jan. 29 — Miss Clara Blackford, popular society girl of Denison, and Mr. Allen J. Reed, well-known silk manufacturer of New Jersey and New York, were united in marriage at 3 o'clock Friday afternoon at the residence of the bride's parents, Mr. and Mrs. G. L. Blackford, 1200 West Sears street, the Rev. Dr. J. E. Aubrey, performing the ceremony. After a wedding trip to the Bermuda Islands, they will reside in New York, where Mr. Reed is president and owner of a chain of silk mills.

Though information is sketchy, it appears that Allen grew up in Paterson, New Jersey, location of his father's first silk mill, Read and Lovatt Company (photographs). Weatherly, the largest town in the northern portion of Carbon County, evolved through the operations of the Beaver Meadow Railroad Company. Later, that development was fostered chiefly through the Lehigh Valley Railroad Company. In 1888 the Read and Lovatt Silk Mill became a significant employer for women and children.  He attended the Hill School in Pottstown, Pennsylvania. A few months before Allen married Clara, his father died, leaving him as head of the silk manufacturing mills. Allen died in January 1925, just three years after the wedding.

Clara's father passed away in 1927. Her mother, known as "Gene," lived on in the house at 1200 West Sears Street. She passed away in November 1947.

By 1930, Clara had married a Denisonian, William Aubrey Smith (1893–1977). He was the son of Erwin Jesse Smith (1866–1925), a local attorney whose name, "E. J. Smith," is still visible on a building at 228 West Main Street. Aubrey's mother was Nannie Weir Smith (1867–1893). He had a brother, Erwin Weir Smith (1890–1959), who lived in Houston.

E. J. Smith Building at 228 West Main Street.
It is next to the proposed vest pocket park.
Photo by Mavis Anne Bryant, 2013

Clara and Aubrey Smith lived in Houston, occupying an apartment in the fashionable Warwick Hotel at 5701 Main Street, near Rice University and the city's growing cluster of art museums. Aubrey was in the oil business, being secretary of Smith & Gates and secretary-treasurer of the Houston Royalty Company. He and his brother had a business partnership. Clara was active as a philanthropist and social worker. Her experiences during this period are reflected in the establishment in 1986 of the Clara B. Smith Training Center within the Social Work Department of the M. D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston.

Around 1953, the Smiths returned to live in Denison at the house at 1200 West Sears. Clara had an office upstairs at the State National Bank. Censuses listed Aubrey's occupation as "oil worker" and "lawyer." He passed away at the end of 1977, and his wife joined him in Fairview Cemetery in 1983.

The couple had no children. In 1978, Clara established the Clara Blackford Smith and W. Aubrey Smith Charitable Foundation, dedicated to promoting quality education, health care, and human services programming for underserved populations in Texas. The foundation gives priority to local needs. Guided by a local board, it has had a significant impact on Denison and surrounding areas. 

Funeral Tuesday for Aubrey Smith

[Source: Denison Herald, December 5, 1977]

DENISON — Services for W. Aubrey Smith, who died early this morning at a local hospital, will be Tuesday at 11 a.m. at his residence, 1200 West Sears, under the direction of Bratcher Funeral Home. Rev. Harrison Lee of the Christ Episcopal Church of Dallas will officiate. Burial will be in Fairview Cemetery.

Smith was born in Denison, the son of Mr. and Mrs. E. J. Smith. He was a graduate of Denison Senior High School, Highland Falls Prep School in New York, and Texas A&M. He married the former Clara Blackford.

Smith and his brother started [illegible] Houston Royalty Company for many years and Smith served as Captain in the 36th Division in Machine Gun Corp in World War I. He came back to Denison in 1963 and lived here most of his life.

Smith used to talk about the early days in Denison. As a young man he would go with a lot of the pioneer Denison merchants on hunting trips. He said he served as everything from chief cook to game bearer.

"Game was plentiful in those days," he said. "They would kill quail, ducks, geese and deer on these hunts."

He was one of the early members of the Denison Rod and Gun Club, when it was created and the first meetings were hunts in Colorado. Later the first club house was built at the present site. He continued to be a booster for the Rod and Gun Club all of his life.

Survivors are his wife, Mrs. W. Aubrey Smith; nephew Erwin Smith, New Orleans; niece, Mrs. Nancy Rich, Kerrville; and a half-sister, Mrs. Rose Mary Pearson, Dallas. Pallbearers will be Albert Linden, Jack Berry, Elmer Campbell, Ralph Porter, Jim Stephenson, David Bayless, and Joe Roewe.


Mrs. Clara Smith

[Source: Sherman TX Democrat, August 3, 1983]

Services for Mrs. Clara Blackford Smith, 90-year-old civic leader who died Tuesday at a Denison hospital, will be held at 10:30 a.m. Thursday at St. Luke's Episcopal Church.

Mrs. Smith was born in Denison, a daughter of Mr. and Mrs. G. L. Blackford, and married the late W. Aubrey Smith in Denison.

In the mid-1950s, she established the annual Blackford Memorial Lectures, which are still held at Texoma Medical Center as a memorial to her father.

A former Houston resident, she was a member of the American Cancer Society board of directors and active in social service there. She was a member of the St. Luke's Episcopal Church, Denison Rod and Gun Club, Texoma Medical Center board of directors, Interfirst Bank board of directors, and a director of the North Texas Loan and Trust.

Pallbearers will be Jack Berry, Ralph Porter, Elmer Campbell, Dr. John Saunders, Joe Roewe, David Bayless, Albert Linden, and Jim T. Stephenson.

Memorials may be made to the American Cancer Society or Texoma Medical Center.

Clara Blackford Smith Dies in Denison Tuesday

[Source: Denison TX Herald, August 3, 1983]

Mrs. Clara Blackford Smith, 90, of 1200 West Sears, who established the Blackford Memorial Lectures held here each year at Texoma Medical Center, died at 9:45 p.m. Tuesday in a local hospital after a long illness.

Funeral will be at 10:30 a.m. tomorrow at St. Luke's Episcopal Church. Rev. Francis D. Raffalovich will officiate and interment will be in Fairview Cemetery under direction of Bratcher Funeral Home.

A native of Denison, Mrs. Smith was born here April 9, 1893, a daughter of Mr. and Mrs. G. L. Blackford. Her father was president of the State National Bank for many years and died here in the mid-1920s.

It was for him that Mrs. Smith organized and funded the Blackford Memorial Lectures which attract speakers from a wide spectrum of interests and supply area physicians and citizens with the best current medical knowledge available.

Mrs. Smith married W. Aubrey Smith, and he died Dec. 5, 1977.

She worked for many years as a volunteer in the health care field, having organized the Harris County Unit of the American Cancer Society in 1947. She also was an active volunteer with the North Grayson County Chapter of the American Cancer Society for many years.

Her contributions have included work at Jefferson Davis Hospital, Ellington Field, and M. D. Anderson Hospital in Houston and Bellevue in New York City.

Locally Mrs. Smith has been a member of the Texoma Medical Center board of Trustees since June 1962 and was active in much of the original planning, decorating and landscaping of the facility.

In 1978 she was named honorary chairman for the $1.5 million Texoma Medical Center Fund Drive.

She also was a member of St. Luke's Episcopal Church, the board of directors of InterFirst Bank in Denison, North Texas Loan and Trust, Denison Rod and Gun Club and did social work while living in Houston.

Pallbearers will be Jack Berry, Ralph Porter, Elmer Campbell, John Saunders, MD, Joe Roewe, David Bayless, Albert Linden and Jim T. Stephenson.

Memorials have been suggested to the American Cancer Society or Texoma Medical Center.

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